Román Macias has gasoline running through his blood and an infatuation with muscle cars in his genes.
His father was in high school in the ’60s when Chevelles and Camaros were just about the coolest thing anyone had ever seen, and that nostalgia was passed down to both of his boys. Román’s older brother had a Camaro as a daily driver in high school, and Román remembers cruising around in the passenger seat. “It just felt right,” he says.
His brother traded the car for a ‘64 Malibu, and shortly after passed on the keys to a grateful Román.
Due to this, Chevelles were always Román’s cup of tea prior to the Impala at hand. He had two of them before he even graduated high school — I’m definitely a little jealous of his high school prom date — and a third by the time he was out of the military.
This ‘62 Impala Super Sport is a very special fluke in Román’s Chevelle streak, and a car that he essentially fell in love with by accident.
While indifferently browsing the internet for cars — we all do it — a ‘62 Impala popped up as a suggested listing. Román was never very partial towards Impalas, but he knew if he ever were to bring one into his life it would be a ‘62; while strolling through car shows this exact body style always seemed to catch his eye. The car in the listing was located just a couple of hours away in Stockton, California so he had to take a look.
It had a few hiccups and kinks to iron out, but Román figured the car would be a great beater to get him to the beach. The only issue was, Román is a car builder at heart and, as we all know, a snowballing build is inevitable with his kind.
The vision of the Impala evolved quickly after he began selling off cars to fund this build, the ethos of the thing transforming from beach-mobile to a modern daily/muscle car mash-up. Román wanted a car that would be turn-key with heated seats and other amenities, while retaining all the ’60s muscle car flair.
When Román sold his last car – a reliable, comfortable and performance-oriented Volvo – the standard for the Impala was lifted even higher. He made a list of all the things he would miss after the Volvo was gone and set out to incorporate them into his ‘62 Impala.
The result is a car with a ton of amenities, including a tuneable exhaust that features valved and adjustable Varex mufflers. They allow for manual operation via a cellphone app, or a geo-mode that utilizes GPS. This way Román can get up early for work without disturbing the neighbors, but pump out the muscle car soundtrack we all love on the backroads without so much as lifting a finger.
This one addition helps to make the car quite reasonable around town and as a day-to-day vehicle. Román picks up his daughter from school and grabs groceries without glares from boring pedestrians, but he also gets a knowing nod from fellow enthusiasts. More importantly, the amazing sound of the LS3 power plant isn’t overly and unnecessarily strangled. At least, not all the time.
Have a listen in the video above, where you’ll notice the valved exhaust momentarily kicking in, before we dive into the powertrain.
Horsepower & Comfort
Román opted for an LS3 swap to make the car reliable and trustworthy on the streets while still putting out a hefty 468hp. All that power is orchestrated by a White Lightning shifter that sits atop a T-56 Magnum transmission soured from American Powertrain. Exhaust exits via Hedman Husler 1.75-inch mid-length headers and passes through 3-inch stainless piping before heading out the aforementioned twin Varex mufflers at the rear. You’ll also notice an air conditioning compressor because, remember, this is a sensible vehicle.
The whole setup spins billet 18×9.5-inch wheels sourced by Circle Racing Wheels, which have been tastefully powder-coated with a metal-flake gold around the bare center caps. Suffice to say, the car moves a lot quicker than anything else its age, and Wilwood disc brakes help to bring it all to a stop in short order.
Moving on to the interior, Román continued to perform unique alterations to fulfil his distinctly individual and modern needs. An extensive and impressive modernization package was added to the interior alongside period-correct red vinyl upholstery that contrasts graciously with the flat black exterior.
Power windows, a push-button electric parking brake, heated seats, a modified factory rear-view mirror with auto-dimming function, a BlackVue front and rear camera setup, LED lighting throughout the entire car, push button trunk release, Ron Francis push button start with a proximity-sensor key, power and remote entry door and truck latches, a Sierra Wireless GPS/WiFi module with 4G-LTE onboard WiFi, a completely hidden 1,000-Watt 10-speaker audio system; the list goes on and on. And on…
Best of all, the interior doesn’t immediately give away all of the upgrades, but hides most of the modern kit behind period fascia.
Custom Dakota Digital electronic gauges are found on the dashboard, and the rear seats feature four-point harnesses for Román’s daughter’s safety. In the end, his ‘62 Impala really is fancier than a lot of 2020 cars fresh off the lot, and I don’t think there’s too much to miss when Román looks at the practicality of his old Volvo.
It’s truly an all-purpose car, completely suited to meet Román’s needs. And it’s continuing to evolve as his needs change. Román decided he wanted to add quickness, so to do that he added lightness by switching to a carbon fiber hood and switching to lighter Jongbloed wheels. At this very moment, the car is also undergoing upgrades to prepare for an LS7 engine transplant.
It will be interesting to see the continued evolution of this car throughout its life. Román has owned lots of cars, but he insists that this Impala is different, saying “I will either die in it, or it will still be around when I’m gone.” It’s a forever friendship, one many car builders can relate to.
Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan
Cutting Room Floor